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April 2021 Education Update

Oregon Achieves... Together!

A Message from the Director of the Oregon Department of Education, Colt Gill

ODE Director Colt Gill 

ODE has unveiled new resources to let Oregonians know about the key steps schools are taking to keep students and staff safe at school. It’s important for parents to see the safety measures in place so that they can make an informed decision about returning their children to in-person learning. We are spreading the word about the resources to all communities and in multiple languages.

You may have seen these videos on social media and television.

The content leads viewers to the page which equips Oregonians with a quick overview of the health and safety steps schools are taking to operate safely.

Schools not only provide the education that Oregon’s children need to succeed, but schools also provide for social-emotional growth and support, nutritious meals, and access to medical care.

And the students love being back to in-person learning!

As Governor Kate Brown said earlier this month when visiting schools in Portland and Woodburn, “There is no better reminder of why school is so foundational to our children's lifelong success than seeing the way their faces light up when they see their teacher and their friends in a classroom for the first time after an incredibly challenging year."

ODE Releases Summer Learning Best Practice Guide

The Oregon Department of Education on Wednesday released the Summer Learning Best Practice Guide to help school districts build on the skills, resources, lived experiences and innate gifts that students possess before the next school year starts.

This guide draws upon research and best practices for how to design and implement summer learning programs. Summer learning programming envisions a range of offerings including tutoring programs, peer-to-peer support, learning and enrichment camps, bridge and transition programs, college courses, community service and apprenticeships, credit recovery opportunities, work-based learning, and more traditional summer school.

In addition, this guide recognizes the heightened need for summer learning programs to provide a strong foundation of care, connection, and healing for students and their families as our communities continue to grapple with the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and racial injustice.

“Summer learning and enrichment will help renew Oregon’s kids education by fostering creativity, learning, and fun,” said Governor Kate Brown. “I’d like to thank school district leaders, educators, and staff for their work to establish summer learning opportunities that are available to all Oregon students, especially those from the communities that have been hardest hit by COVID-19: Black, Indigenous, Latino, Latina, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, Tribal and students of color.”

The Summer Learning Best Practice Guide sits within a series of releases to support summer learning. These include:

“With resources and creativity, we can support Oregon’s students in the summer months with a focus on fostering health and wellness, cultivating relationships, accelerating learning, and providing enriching activities,” said ODE Director Colt Gill. “Summer programs provide a unique opportunity to deepen learning and restore social connections that promote growth, resiliency and success for every student. This approach marks a significantly different mindset from a paradigm where “summer school” is seen as remedial and punitive. Student learning may be unfinished due to the disrupted school year, and as such, schools can reframe summer learning programs as significant opportunities to foster health and well-being, and accelerate learning. Summer learning can provide an opportunity to shift from recovery to renewal for every student.”

Governor Brown Names Alyssa Chatterjee Acting ELD Director

Governor Kate Brown announced that she is naming Alyssa Chatterjee as the Acting Director of the Early Learning Division (ELD) of the Oregon Department of Education, effective May 1. Current Early Learning System Director Miriam Calderon announced April 12 that she has accepted a position with the Biden-Harris administration to work on early learning policy at the national level.

“I’d like to thank Director Calderon for her tireless work to transform our early learning system in Oregon into one grounded in equity, to expand access to high-quality preschool for more children, no matter where they live, and to keep emergency child care open and operating throughout the pandemic. I am so pleased that the Biden-Harris administration will be drawing on her talents and experience at the national level,” said Governor Brown.

“And, I am thrilled to name Alyssa Chatterjee as acting director of the division. Alyssa has led the development of my office’s early learning and child care policy, and has had a key role in shaping policy and supporting the work of my Children’s Cabinet and the Racial Justice Council. She has worked closely with Director Calderon for many years, and I know she will hit the ground running to continue our ongoing work with early learning and child care providers to ensure all children across Oregon can thrive and reach their full potential.”

Chatterjee has focused on early learning policy throughout her time working for the State of Oregon. Prior to joining the Governor’s Office as deputy education policy advisor in August of 2019, Chatterjee was among the first employees at ELD, when the division was formally created. She served in a variety of roles at ELD engaged in policy and planning, including as a policy advisor and legislative coordinator for the agency. As a member of ELD’s executive team, she helped guide the state’s early learning strategic planning process for the 5-year statewide early learning system plan, Raise Up Oregon. She has a bachelor’s degree from Willamette University.

ELD Seeking Comment on Child Care and Development Fund State Plan

The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) is a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to State, Territory, and Tribal grantees. CCDF supports Oregon’s efforts to provide child care services for low-income families and enhance the quality of child care for all children.

The CCDF State Plan serves as the application for funds, details the State’s response to federal requirements, and describes child care programs and services available to eligible families. Visit the ELD website to download the draft CCDF State Plan for 2022-2024.

The Early Learning Division (ELD) wants to hear from you!

Share your feedback on the draft State Plan in the following ways:

  • Participate in a public hearing on Tuesday, April 27 from 6 to 7 p.m.
    • You can sign up online to submit a public testimony.
    • Testimony participants will be able to call or video into the meeting. This meeting will be a listening session for ELD staff to hear comments on the draft CCDF plan. Testimony sign-up will close on April 27, 2021 at 6 p.m. For special accommodations (including requests for translators), please email Remy Watts or call 971-701-1535 at least 48 hours before the beginning of the hearing.
  • Submit a comment through the public feedback form.

Educator Advancement Council Presents to State Lawmakers

The EAC was excited to present highlights from the past two years of meaningful work and its plan for the 2021-2023 biennium to the Joint Ways and Means Education Subcommittee last month, including details on scholarships, teacher led change work, stipends, grants, and racial justice work.

Bodies of that work include the Oregon Educator Equity Advisory Group (OEEAG), who met on March 17 to discuss deep concerns for educators and students of color and look at ways to improve the Educator Equity Report. Another important part of the EAC work, the Regional Educator Networks, are moving forward with human-centered design work in their regions; REN Coordinators will be presenting highlights of this work at the April 21st EAC meeting, which is open to the public.

For more details, check out the March 2021 EAC Newsletter, read our blog about “Strength-to-Strength: The Wisdom is in the Room”, or sign up for the mailing list.

ODE In the News

State Assessment Plan for 2021

ODE received conditional approval for our amended assessment waiver request from the United States Department of Education (USDE) on April 6. The public comment period for the amended assessment waiver request ended on Friday, April 9. The public comments received did not result in any changes to the amended assessment waiver request. ODE will submit a summary of the public comment process to USDE and full approval is expected. Oregon's test windows for English language arts, mathematics, and science opened on April 13 and continue through June 11. Oregon's test blueprints have all been shortened in order to limit the impact on instructional time.

For more information, including the answers to some frequently asked questions, head to the Assessment Communications page of the ODE website.

New Research Illustrates Importance of Child Care for Oregon Families

Results of new research commissioned by the Early Learning Division (ELD) and conducted by Portland State University and OSLC Developments, Inc. illustrate the critical importance of accessible child care for Oregon families during the COVID-19 pandemic. The reports document the widespread disruptions to child care experienced by Oregon families in the last year.

“Throughout this pandemic, we have worked to ensure Emergency Child Care is available for families, especially for frontline workers. The research highlights the increased uncertainty the pandemic created for families of young children, particularly families of color,” said Oregon Early Learning System Director Miriam Calderon. “Families made clear how important child care is — not only to remain in the workforce, but also to support their children’s healthy development and learning. This is important data that must guide our efforts to strengthen Oregon’s child care system going forward.”

In an online survey, conducted during the fall of 2020, most families (59.6%) reported that COVID-19 disrupted their children’s care arrangements. The rate of disrupted child care was even higher among Black families (73.8%) and Asian families (67.5%). The most common reason for disruptions among all families was that the child care provider was not providing on-site care or had closed. Child care has been closed throughout the state since March 2020, but approved Emergency Child Care facilities have been in operation with modified health and safety requirements in place, including reduced group sizes.

The research also showed families relied on a “patchwork” of family, friends, and neighbors to provide child care during the pandemic. Parents and caregivers who participated in listening sessions shared changes in family income, loss of employment, and increased child care costs created additional barriers to finding affordable, high-quality child care.

The findings showed families were worried about their children’s loss of learning opportunities and social interactions. During the listening sessions, parents and caregivers said they were concerned virtual opportunities were lower quality compared to in-person experiences, and may impact children’s early academic skills, social and emotional learning, and readiness for kindergarten.

Families’ main concern about returning to in-person child care outside of their own homes was increased exposure to COVID-19, with 82% reporting this concern. The research also found families of color reported higher rates of concern about COVID-19 exposure than the rate of concern across all families. This may be related to the higher rates of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths among Black, Indigenous, Asian, and Latinx people across the country. Additionally, families of color described how experiences of racism in their local communities affected their child care arrangements and their families’ health and safety.

“Families shared examples of how their fears of being targeted because of their race or ethnicity increased their concerns for their children’s safety and well-being while in child care,” said Beth Green, a research professor at Portland State University’s School of Social Work. “As parents, they want what is best for their children, which often means a trusted provider within their own community.”

The complete findings from the 2020 Family Household Survey and 2020 Family Listening Sessions (10 individual reports) can be found on ELD’s website.

You Can Shape the Future of CTE in the State

The Oregon Department of Education is forming a Statewide Advisory Group to help shape the future of Career and Technical Education (CTE) in the state. We are looking for a small group of committed individuals with broad representation and fresh perspectives to serve in limited term positions.

If you would like to be a part of reimagining and transforming learner experiences to enhance their future prospects, empower their communities, and ensure equity in an inclusive, sustainable, innovation-based economy, submit an application! We will be accepting applications through May 15, 2021.

You can also nominate someone who you feel would be ideal to serve in this role. Nominations will be accepted through May 7, 2021. There will be a review and selection process, and applicants will be notified if they have been chosen to serve on the Advisory Group.

We are excited to partner with you to help make Oregon’s CTE State Plan a reality! Questions or comments can be directed to Malinda Shell.

Help Diversify State Boards and Commissions

In an effort to further Governor Kate Brown’s diversity, equity and inclusion mission, the state will be hosting three virtual board and commission member recruitment events (each of these will be identical):

  • Wednesday, April 28, 2021
    • 11:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
    • 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 1, 2021
    • 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

The focus of this event is to create a diverse pool of candidates for Oregon’s boards and commissions. Diverse in terms of geography, gender, race, disability/ability, ethnicity, LGBTQ+ and veteran status.

The program will include an overview of what it means to serve as a board/commission member. Current board/commission members will be available to talk about their experiences. The event will also include break-out sessions for more in depth conversations with board/commission members and executive directors.

You can help by spreading the word of this event out far and wide. The state wants to reach as many Oregonians as possible. For registration please visit State of Oregon: Administration - Boards & Commissions website and click on the “Save the Date” icon in the upper right corner of the page. A full program agenda will be sent out in mid-April.

People Behind the Partnership

ODE partners with school districts to foster equity and excellence for every learner. Through our People Behind the Partnership video series, ODE staff share their perspective on their work and let Oregonians see the people behind the partnership. In the latest video, Director of Standards and Instructional Support Alexa Pearson explains how education equity serves students. Be sure to check out all the other videos in our People Behind the Partnership series!

Student Spotlight

  • The Medford Mail Tribune featured State Board of Education student advisor Yosalin Arenas, who won a prestigious scholarship from Oregon State University.
  • KGW looked at a student-run coding competition that attracted hundreds of participants.
  • Some 4th graders in Jacksonville are helping wildfire victims in this story from KTVL.